Pasta, profiteroles, pizza, pies, cakes, dumplings, flatbread, your morning toast, they all begin with wheat. Cultivated for more than 10,000 years, wheat is a grass whose seed is milled and turned into flour. The common wheat variety (Triticum aestivum) makes up 95% of the world’s wheat crop, followed by Durum wheat, making up the remaining 5%. In whole-wheat form, all varieties are high in fibre, protein, folate, phosphorus and other trace elements.
The case against wheat is usually concerned with the impoverished commercial bread and convenience baked goods. Look closely at the bread that sits on supermarket shelves; wheat is not the problem; the 30 other chemical ingredients are. Compare this to the bread from Bread and Butter Project and Dust Bakery, whose breads we sell and serve at Cornersmith. These breads have little more than flour, water and salt in them. They are delicious and nutritious because they begin with good wheat. Add an egg here and there or some sugar or milk and the possibilities of what you can make with quality flour are inexhaustible.
Wholesome cooking starts with simple wholesome ingredients. The growing interest in older methods of milling flour, such as stone-ground and hand-milling, where the nutrients of the wheat are retained, are bringing baked food to the centre of the table once again and we could not be more pleased. These days it is quite easy to find a stone-milled flour; there are even a few health food shops around where you can mill your own. Choose unbleached and traditionally milled – experiment with whole wheat, spelt and bok. These flours still have plenty of wheat germ oil so keep them refrigerated for freshness. Then learn to use your flour well – bake bread on Sunday morning, make pasta with the kids, never buy frozen pasty again.